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Women deserve better than Munroe Bergdorf

Why does this mediocre, scandal-prone man keep being called upon to represent women?

Jo Bartosch

Jo Bartosch

Topics Identity Politics Politics UK

Munroe Bergdorf has racked up a number of firsts. The activist and model was the first trans person to lead the Women’s March in London. He became the first trans model to appear on the UK cover of Cosmopolitan. And most recently, despite being a biological male, he was appointed by UN Women as its first ever ‘UK champion’.

Bergdorf’s appointment has sparked outrage for the obvious reason that a man is probably not the best fit to be the face of British women on the global stage. But it’s not just his male sex that makes him a questionable choice for the role. A month before his appointment, and just hours after the first reports began to emerge of the atrocities on 7 October in Israel, Bergdorf posted on X: ‘Much of what’s happening in occupied Palestine will be in future history books as an example of a revolutionary struggle.’ He seemed to overlook the terror and suffering of those 1,200 victims of Hamas’s killing spree (although admittedly, so did UN Women at the time).

Through the years, this race-baiting, woman-faking activist has shown a mastery of the identity-politics grift. He has ended up in roles to which he is wholly unsuited and unqualified. And while he has faced many setbacks, thanks to controversies of his own making, these have only ever been temporary. He has consistently weathered the kinds of backlashes that would tank most other careers.

After achieving some celebrity status in 2017, Bergdorf briefly became the face of L’Oréal, but was sacked only days later. The Daily Mail unearthed a Facebook post in which he had said, ‘white people’s entire existence is drenched in racism’ and that white people are ‘the most violent and oppressive force of nature on Earth’. (Bergdorf himself is mixed-race and has a white mother.)

These mad comments didn’t stop the Labour Party from courting Bergdorf. A few months later in February 2018, Dawn Butler, the then shadow equalities minister, asked him to sit on an unofficial Labour Party LGBT advisory board. This time, Bergdorf lasted a few weeks. He resigned after claiming to have suffered ‘endless attacks’ on his ‘character by the conservative right-wing press’. These ‘attacks’ included reports revealing that he had made questionable remarks on social media about lesbians. Back in 2012, Bergdorf wrote to a follower: ‘Aren’t you meant to be crying over the fact that your womb is broken you hairy barren lesbian.’ In another tweet, he branded one of his followers a ‘saggy ol’ dyke’.

Seemingly undeterred by the controversy, the NSPCC was next in line to select Bergdorf for a public-facing role. He became the first LGBT campaigner for Childline, the NSPCC’s counselling service, in 2019. Times columnist Janice Turner rightly questioned his suitability to work with youngsters. She highlighted the fact that Bergdorf had been photographed in fetish wear and had featured in Playboy (he has also posed for nude pictures elsewhere with his penis out). He was then accused of breaching safeguarding protocols by asking children to contact him directly on social media. Just 48 hours after Bergdorf accepted the role, the NSPCC publicly cut ties with him.

But that wasn’t the end of the matter. A letter of support was drafted and signed by 150 NSPCC staff, expressing ‘embarrassment and shame’ at their employer’s decision to drop Bergdorf. In response, the NSPCC issued a ‘full, frank and unreserved apology’, despite all of the valid safeguarding concerns that had been raised. Bergdorf later complained the charity had bowed ‘down to anti-LGBT hate and overt transphobia’. And thus his own, obvious failings were excused. The ‘right-wing press’ was the real problem, apparently.

Despite all these controversies, the Teflon-coated Bergdorf continues to be put on a pedestal and treated as a representative for womanhood. Indeed, Bergdorf even feels entitled to tell women how we should be doing feminism. When he was chosen to head the UK Women’s March in 2018, he scolded British feminists, claiming that ‘centering reproductive systems at the heart of these demonstrations is reductive and exclusionary’. He also told prospective attendees not to wear ‘pink pussy hats’ because, according to trans ideology, not all women have a vagina.

Echoing the satirical magazine, the Onion, Bergdorf told Grazia readers in 2019 that ‘Women are getting feminism wrong’. He has also smeared the Suffragettes as ‘white supremacists’.

Given that, in today’s febrile environment, simply ‘liking’ the wrong tweet can be a potentially sackable offence, it seems fairly incredible that Bergdorf’s career continues to bloom. Not least as, aside from the amount of surgery he has had, Bergdorf is an almost remarkably unremarkable man. Listen to him speak and it’s clear that he’s not particularly bright, knowledgeable or witty.

Uncharitable though it might be, it’s impossible to escape the suspicion that the success of this modern mediocrity can be attributed to the number diversity boxes he ticks. He has made his way in a world where identity trumps ability or suitability when it comes to taking the top jobs. Perhaps we should all doff our pussy hats to Bergdorf for unwittingly exposing this racket.

Jo Bartosch is a journalist campaigning for the rights of women and girls.

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Identity Politics Politics UK

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